Happy Birthday Mom!

“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me.  They have clung to me all my life.”  ~Abraham Lincoln

Well stated Mr. Lincoln!  A mother’s love is an amazing thing.  I was blessed to have and still have a wonderful mother!!!

Today is my mother’s birthday!  Yeah!  We get to celebrate with her today for her party.  I am so looking forward to the party which she is graciously sharing with Ian.  We are celebrating the two of them together and it will be a fun evening.

The above picture was taken many years ago in San Diego of my mother on the left, me in the middle, and my grandma (Mom’s mom) on the right.  It is one of my favorites of our early days going to our family’s favorite beach.  We have many memories from being at that beach together.  In fact, two of the photos that I am including today are from Mission Beach in CA.

I love my mom, whose given name is Mary but is called Mairzy (after the song Mairzy Doats)!  She is a lot of fun and great to talk to.  She has a great zest for life and is always up for time with her kids and grandkids!

My mom was a stay-at-home while the three of us kids were growing up.  Before and after we came along, she was a teacher and a fabulous one at that!  Before I was born, she taught 1st grade and then after myself, my sister Cindy, and brother Richmond were grown, she went back to school, earned a master’s degree and went on to teach kindergarten for a long time.  She has a way with making learning exciting for young children!  And she does that with her grandchildren!  (This picture is of the two of us in the late 1980s on the beach house front porch.)

Mom loves to read, especially mysteries, sing in the church choir and family sing-alongs, watch favorite shows on TV, rest, enjoy the beach and many other things.  She is a soprano with a soaring voice.  Two of my favorites that she sings are “Bali Hai” and “O Holy Night.”  But, I must admit, when I was growing up, I didn’t appreciate her voice as much when we were in the car trying to listen to the radio.

Each birthday growing up, Mom made sure to make us feel very special and we had the best birthdays.  At several of my birthday parties, we made Christmas ornaments.  I still have a few of these from then and enjoy having them on the tree.  A few years ago, a friend of mine told me she used to love coming to my parties and that they were the best.  That was thanks to Mom!

Until I had my own son, I didn’t truly or fully appreciate the depth of love that a mother has for her child/children.  I found that I appreciated my mother so much more after having my own son.  And, I find myself doing a lot of things as she used to do.  Funny, isn’t it how that often happens.

When I was growing up I didn’t want her to teach me how to do much in the kitchen — that teenage rebellion kicked in apparently.  Now, I enjoy doing things with her and Ian!  I want him to learn and need her to help me with those items that I didn’t have the patience to develop early on.

And, I must admit, even today when I am sick and feeling like total crud, I want my mommy!  How about you?  Nothing like a hug and encouraging word from someone who loves you unconditionally and wants only the best for you.  That is what she has always wanted for me and my siblings.  We are truly blessed!

One thing that is truly special and something I cherish, is that each summer since Ian was born, we have had the chance to go to the beach for up to a month with my parents and other family members.  A few times, it has been just me, Mom and Ian.   Wonderful memories were made and much fun was had by all!!

We are currently going to the same church as my parents.  It is fun to see them each week and have Ian have regular time with his grandparents.  This is a picture from Easter this year of (from left) me, Kirk, Ian, Mom and Dad.  (Ian also spends a lot of time with his other set of grandparents.)

I thank the Lord each day for my mother!  She has been a true blessing to me and I so appreciate all that she has done for me over the years.  She taught me to be independent, want to learn, enjoy the love of family, singing, reading, and how to live your faith.  I just hope that I can be the same kind of mother to my son!

A few quotes about mothers:

  • “When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts.  A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.”  ~Sophia Loren
  • “Mother love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible.”  ~Marion C. Garretty, quoted in A Little Spoonful of Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul
  • “[A] mother is one to whom you hurry when you are troubled.” ~Emily Dickinson
  • “A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.” ~Washington Irving
  • “Any mother could perform the jobs of several air traffic controllers with ease.”  ~Lisa Alther
  • “A mother’s arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them.” ~Victor Hugo
  • “Mother is a verb, not a noun.”  ~Proverb

Rainbows and Storytelling

…I still wonder where rainbows come from.

Thus ended each story about Willie the Elf that my grandfather used to tell.

That phrase inspired the name of this blog and some of my writing. You see my grandpa was an amazing storyteller and Willie was my favorite character.

Last night I had the pleasure of watching a video of several of his stories, with the one about Willie being the best (in my opinion).  The time was 1988 when our family was celebrating his 80th birthday for a weekend.  Here is a photo of me with him and his wife, my grandma, a few years before that.  This is how I remember them looking.

In looking through some videos, my mother happened upon this amazing treasure.  It was like our own little time machine.  We were taken back to another time and another place and it was amazing!!

The story we watched was my absolute favorite!  In the story, Willie travels to Knoxville, Tennessee, and finds the Sunsphere which was built for the World’s Fair in 1982.  The building looks like it has a big, gold ball on the top.  In the story, Willie is thrilled since he thinks he has found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  And as a result, he will finally get his answer of where rainbows come from.

He ends up getting stuck and his faithful friends come in and help him down, with a mug of hot chocolate to calm his nerves.  He then realizes that it isn’t the pot of gold but isn’t too upset about that fact.  He then goes back to his cabin in the woods and again says, “I still wonder where rainbows come from.”

These characters were brought back to life to me as I listened to the story with my parents, husband, son, and father-in-law.  I hope to watch this sometime with my sister and brother but am afraid we’ll all be crying too much.  I was laughing and crying tears of joy and remembrance.

I cannot describe the excitement of once again seeing my grandfather tell one of his stories.  The voice was the same as I remember and he looked exactly as I remembered. And, I remembered every word of the story, even though I haven’t heard it in years.  A few items were a bit different, but it was mostly the same.

The rest of us, however, have changed quite a bit. We all looked like the 1980s –with the clothes and the hair.  I saw my parents then at the age I am now. (Isn’t that amazing and profound in itself?)  And, I heard laughs of family members that I have heard my entire life.  Seeing my siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends was such a treat!  Our own buried treasure, that’s for sure!

Since this video was made, we have lost many dear people — such as my grandfather who passed away 8 years after this video was recorded — but we have also added so many special loved ones to the family through marriage and children.  The circle of life has continued as it always does.

My family liked and still likes to celebrate birthdays and be sure to have time together.  Our times were filled with fun and laughter, stories, and hours of singing as my amazing aunt would play each song on the piano from memory.  We were all very different people, yet loved coming together.

I am honored to be a part of this amazing family.  We have different faiths, jobs, political views, and walks of life, yet we did and still do love each other and are thrilled to see one another when we can get together.  We have learned, for the most part, to agree to disagree.  And, to me my life has been so much richer for these experiences.  You can learn so much if you are willing to listen to someone who has a different view of life.

Now, my siblings and many of my cousins have children so a new generation is growing up with the family values, stories and songs.  I hope that this videotape can help make these stories relevant to them as well.

Ian has been told about Willie and loves the stories.  I try to tell them but it isn’t quite the same, well, not to me anyway, but he loves them as I used to and still do.

He has asked me what Willie looks like.  “I want to see a picture of Willie, Mommy,”  he told me.  What he doesn’t realize or completely understand is that Willie was a creation in my grandpa’s vivid imagination and he looks different to all of my family and everyone who hears the stories.  How do I explain that to him?

One time when I was a child, I drew a picture of what Willie looked like to me, so I can show him that.  But, he may have another idea in mind.

I changed the banner at the top of my blog in honor of Willie’s quest to find answers about something he was passionate about.  In his own way, Grandpa was teaching us about following our bliss and our passion.  I didn’t realize that when I was a child and young adult since I was too busy enjoying the fun of the story.  But, I can never thank him and my grandma enough for that gift as well as the gifts of imagination, love of writing, education, family, and love.

Because of these stories, I have always loved rainbows and still do.  Last summer, a friend who lives across the street from my family’s beach house, took a picture of a rainbow with the beach house at the end of the rainbow.  That too made me cry since that house is one my grandparents bought and our family has enjoyed.

Grandpa and Grandma, you are loved and missed!  And, thanks to this video, Grandpa, you and your stories will live on for Ian and his generation.  What an amazing blessing!  Thanks Mom for finding this treasure for us!!

Reunited

There was a song in the 1980s with the line, “Reunited and it feels so good.”

I was recently reunited with my husband Kirk and it’s been great to see him again!  Because of his work and me going to a family reunion/vacation, we had a month apart.

That wasn’t fun but we could at least talk regularly and communicated by e-mail.  Still, it isn’t the same as seeing each other every day and I really missed him, despite all of the people I was with.

During this time I thought about all of the military families who are apart for 6 months to a year or even longer.  I honestly don’t know how they do it!  I have a new respect for them and how they have to live for our freedoms.  My hat is off to these families and their friends as well.

Ian has also enjoyed being reunited with his daddy.  “I missed you Daddy,” he told Kirk.  This morning when he woke up, he made a point to come in and see his Daddy and make sure we were still together.

They gave each other hugs and talked and said “I Love You” to one another.  It was a beautiful thing to watch!  They are right back to their normal pattern and relationship!

Throughout the month, Ian would occasionally ask about Daddy but didn’t always want to talk to him on the phone. A few times he did and told him all about our adventures and that he was learning lots of new things.

Reunited and it feels so good!  Indeed, it is wonderful to reunite with the ones you love.